20+ Classic Chapter Books for Independent Readers and Read Alouds

Once your child has mastered Frog and Toad "type" books (being very easy chapter books), your child will be ready to move on to some of these classic chapter books (especially the titles marked with # below).
Before beginning longer (120+ pages) chapter books such as these, consider introducing simple chapter books to see if the interest is there, whether the child is reading independently or you are reading them as a read aloud.  The chapter books listed below are ideal when a child can read without frustration.  As a read aloud, these books have been read to or listened to  by children as young as 3, though I think 4-6 is a more ideal age.  About half of the books below we found as audio books at our public library.   I know for certain that my 3 year old (now 4) listened and paid attention to chapter books with the questions he asked and answered and observations he made.  (My daughter was also introduced to lengthy audio books at age 3.)
  1. Stuart Little#
  2. Raggedy Ann# (series)
  3. The Velveteen Rabbit
  4. Charlotte's Web
  5. Betsy-Tacy (series)
  6. Cricket in Times Square (series)
  7. Little House on the Big Woods (series)
  8. Encyclopedia Brown* (series)
  9. Heidi
  10. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (series)
  11. The Littles (series)
  12. Anne of Green Gables (series)
  13. Pippi Longstocking (series)
  14. Mr. Popper's Penguins
  15. Narnia (series) (I recommend beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.)
  16. The Boxcar Children (series)
  17. Hank the Cow Dog (series)
  18. Caddie Woodlawn*
  19. A Bear Named Paddington (series)
  20. Misty of Chincoteque* (Edited: Due to slang of the regional "speak", I would wait to share this book for older independent readers.)
Some of the lengthier books like the Narnia series and Heidi were listened to on audio books.  I am not a homeschooling mama, so I don't have as much time to read to the children as some families, but we still enjoy books together as a family!  We listened to the Little House series at least two or three times before my 6 year old began reading it on her own.  (Which is why we had a Little House birthday party when she turned 6!)  A benefit (for some) of reading classics, is that often there is a movie tie-in.  This is especially good for readers who might need to get excited about the book before reading them.

This list of 20 classic chapter books and series should be available at your local library.  What a blessing to share books with our children that we grew up reading!  (Actually, I only read 8 of them as a child.)  The only book you may have trouble finding is Betsy-Tacy.  I 100% recommend owning the Betsy-Tacy Treasury if you have a girl though, and I don't buy a lot of new books!

Newer Chapter Books to Read for Younger Children

  1. Mercy Watson(series)
  2. Sarah Plain and Tall# (series)
  3. The Lighthouse Family# (series)
  4. Humphrey the Hamster (series) 
  5. My Father's Dragon(series)
  6. How to Train Your Dragon (series.  However, I would use caution before allowing a young child to read this due to some potty humor, mean attitudes, and name calling...and women's undergarments as slingshots.  Read here.)

Older Children Advanced Tween Readers to Teen (and Adults Will Enjoy!)
These are a handful of books (new and old) that I look forward to sharing with my oldest child! These are for advanced readers.   The content may be a bit mature (romance, but not heavy or good guys/bad guys/violence), though still "clean."

  1. The Penderwicks (series)
  2. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series)
  3. The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) 
  4. The Strictest School in the World (series)
  5. Little Women (Little Men/Jo's Boys)
  6. Betsy-Tacy (high school series)
  7. Emily of Deep Valley (linked to review)
  8. Anne of Green Gables (the rest of the series) 
Which would you add to each category?  Any of your favorites listed here?

* Books I have not read to my children, though I have read them recently and intend to introduce them to my  4 and 6 year old this summer.
# Books that have many illustrations to help transition into lengthy chapter books.

Need more book ideas?  For boys, girls, or younger children...check these other chapter book recommendations for you, from me.
Introducing Chapter Books
25+ CLASSIC Chapter Books for Independent Readers (or Family Read Alouds)
Books for Advanced Readers (This list comes from many people, with lots of variety.)
Books for Middle Grade Boys (or Girls)

~ Annette {This Simple Mom}

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  1. Still working on y list! :)

    This is a great list!

  2. My oldest loved Encyclopedia Brown and Cam Jansen. There was also a series about a horse named laze that my second son liked, and the youngest loved Black Beauty.

  3. Gregor the Overlander, Indian in the Cupboard, Origami Yoda... Can you tell I have boys? They'd turn their noses up at Betsy-Tacy or Anne of Green Gables.

  4. What a great list, let's see other ones to include....... Nancy Drew should be in there somewhere, all of the Marguerite Henry books, those are great.

  5. I love Boxcar Christian! One Christian series I love is "The Riverboat Adventures", a historical fiction series set during the American Civil War. Another series I love is "Girls to the Rescue" by Bruce Lansky, a series featuring courageous women/girls. The reading level is younger elementary. :)

  6. Great list! I've already grabbed several of these as I see them at used bookstores for future use. Just pinned this list! :)

  7. Such a great list! We love Mercy Watson, Flat Stanley, and Magic Tree House! I can't believe it's not on your list - such a great Social Studies/History/Geography series!

  8. Oh, yes! I consider those to be newer books, but yes, definitely recommend all of those, too. :)


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